Comment: The rumored iPad mini 5 only makes sense if it gets a substantial price cut

The venerable iPad mini 4 still has its fans, despite its now somewhat odd position in the iPad line-up: more expensive than the 9.7-inch iPad, yet smaller and significantly less capable.

Smaller can be a benefit as well as a drawback, of course. Some prefer the portability of the mini, and many parents like them as devices for younger kids, as they are easier to handle and thus less likely to get damaged by a fall.

But the ‘less capable’ part is because the iPad mini hasn’t been updated since 2015 …

Today’s report is one of several predicting that the device is finally getting a refresh this year, from the iPad mini 4 to the iPad mini 5 – but all the reports suggest that we shouldn’t expect much from it.

The iPad mini 5 is not going to be the most exciting of updates according to recent reports. Macotakara says informed accessory manufacturers indicate the new iPad mini will look almost identical to the iPad mini 4 design […]

Retaining mostly the same external design, it will purportedly keep the Lightning connector, Touch ID and the 3.5mm headphone jack. It will feature the same bezels and overall dimensions will not substantially change

No Face ID or smaller bezels here – just a processor bump. There hasn’t even been any talk of Apple Pencil support.

Right now, unless you are specifically buying for the small size, the $329 9.7-inch iPad is a better buy than the $399 iPad mini 4 – despite the 128GB storage you get with the smaller device. Since it appears that the spec of the iPad mini 5 isn’t going to be much of an improvement, the only way that equation changes is if the iPad mini gets a substantial price-drop.

So far, we have heard that the new model will be cheaper than the existing one, but there’s been no word on just how large a price reduction we might see.

My view is that, even if you do have a market specifically attracted by the small size, it isn’t reasonable to expect them to pay a premium for that preference. The price of the iPad mini made sense back in the days when the 9.7-inch option was substantially more expensive; it makes no sense at all today.

So I think Apple needs to at least match, and preferably beat, that $329 price-tag. Especially when you don’t have to look hard for sub-$300 deals on the larger model. The logical price point at this stage would be $299 – a full $100 cheaper than the existing model. If Apple hits that, then the new model will occupy a sensible point in the iPad line-up; otherwise, not.

What’s your view? Are you still planning to buy the new iPad mini 5, despite the limited refresh we’re expecting? And would a $100 price drop be the deciding factor? Let us know in the comments.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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